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Food safety and globalisation - challenges and opportunities

13/2014, 02.06.2014

Against the background of the increasing liberalisation of global trade, how can food safety be guaranteed? What challenges does global trade pose for food safety and risk assessment of food? And what role do different concepts relating to risks, safety and precautions play, not least against the background of different cultures? At the international BfR stakeholder conference "Food Safety and Globalisation - Challenges and Opportunities" taking place in the Quadriga Forum Berlin on 2 and 3 June 2014, these questions are discussed by more than 100 representatives from the fields of regulatory risk assessment, science, business, politics and consumer protection. "Independent scientific risk assessments are the foundation of food safety standards in the European Union", says BfR President Professor Dr. Dr. Andreas Hensel. "The vital principle of international actions is that food must be safe for everybody."

Food and feed have long been traded globally. Due to imports from all corners of the world, consumers in Europe have got used to all sorts of foods being available all year round, irrespective of seasonal and regional influences. Food safety is the result of a number of endeavours and systematic studies along the food chain, from the producer to the plate of the consumer. Compared to the European Union, the standards applied to food safety and to determining residue limit values are not as high everywhere, nor do other parts of the world have as comprehensive labelling requirements or equally sensitive analysis procedures.

“Worldwide sourcing” increasingly shapes our supply situation. The foods and products we eat no longer come from our region only, our neighbouring countries, or from individual international trading partners. Instead, there are extensive worldwide networks for the production and trade with food and feed. The primary responsibility for food and feed safety lies with food and feed business operators. It is becoming increasingly difficult to identify the manufacturers within this extensive network of trade relations. This poses major challenges to the traceability of foods and assessment of their safety and quality.

Drawing on practical examples from different food cultures, the debate about cloned meat, and the various possibilities of tracing, the participants will also discuss the various views on risk perception and prevention.

About the BfR

The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) is a scientific institution within the portfolio of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL). It advises the Federal Government and Federal Laender on questions of food, chemical and product safety. The BfR conducts its own research on topics that are closely linked to its assessment tasks.




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